FORT WORTH, Texas (June 10, 2011) – Led by Will Power, all three Team Penske drivers will start among the first seven rows Saturday for the start of the first of the Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS).?
Power will start third in the first of two races under the lights on the 1.5-mile high-banked oval. Ryan Briscoe will line up ninth while Helio Castroneves will start 13th in the first doubleheader in open-wheel racing in nearly 30 years.?
After topping the early afternoon practice session, Power recorded a two-lap qualifying average of 214.716 mph in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Honda under hot and sticky conditions at TMS on Friday afternoon.?
"It was a good run out there in the Verizon car," said Power. "I was flat and on the white line for both laps. We have some work to do tonight in practice to find a good race trim, but we should be good. We get two shots at it tomorrow and I'm definitely ready to race."?
Briscoe was clocked at 213.891 mph in the No. 6 Guidepoint Systems Team Penske machine. ?
"The Guidepoint Systems car felt good out there," said Briscoe, the defending champion at Texas who wound up second in the practice session before qualifying on Friday. "I think maybe we went a little too long in our gear ratio and that may have cost us a little bit in qualifying. I think we'll be in good shape for the race. We've still got a little work to do in practice tonight to get the car consistent and where we want it for tomorrow."?
Castroneves will start 13th after his run of 213.232 mph in the No. 3 AAA Insurance Team Penske Dallara/Honda.?
"It was a little bit loose," said Castroneves. "This morning we did a 213 (mph) in pretty clean air, so I was expecting a little bit better than what we did. It's kind of surprising, but the AAA Insurance car will be good in the race. Team Penske will do everything it can to give me a good race car. We've won the Indianapolis 500 from 13th, so maybe we can have a lucky 13 here. Certainly it will be exciting to race twice in one night."
?After the first 275-kilometer race, teams and drivers will take a one-hour break. A blind draw will be made by each driver to determine the starting order for the second race, and then they will embark on another 114-lap adventure around the TMS track.?
"I love the idea," said Team Penske advisor Rick Mears, the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner. "It's good for racing, period, but it's good for a lot of other reasons, too. You've got a halfway point to make some changes. Let's say I have a good car in the first race. Then I know I've got a good car for the second race, so I know my odds are pretty good in the second race. But if I don't have a good car, then I've got a second shot in the second race. I've got an opportunity to fix what's wrong and try again."?
Mears won both ends of the last open-wheel doubleheader at Atlanta in 1981.?
Following qualifying, Team Penske paced the Friday night final practice session at Texas as Briscoe posted a fast lap of 214.373 mph. Saturday's race coverage of the Firestone Twin 275s begins at 7 p.m. ET on Versus.